With each passing day, women in India are breaking into new fields hitherto seen as exclusive male preserves. And adventure sports is another such male forte….writes Tajinder Bains
Meet this gutsy young woman, Dr. Ritika Oberoi, who wears many hats — of a dentist, of an entrepreneur and of a keen sportsperson.
The intrepid woman, in her mid-twenties, is also into off-roading — an extreme sport involving negotiating rough terrains like rivers and other water bodies, dry river beds, steep and winding hillock tracks, the challenging deserts, and more.
“It is interesting to be in a male-dominated sport. You can actually stand beside men and prove that women are no less. It is such a gutsy thing,” she said.
Ritika was given a special award for being the sole female contestant in the 4X4 SUV category at the inaugural “JK Tyre Xtreme 4Play 2017”, held from February 17 to 19 at the Kikar Lodge, about 35 km from here.
The venue has a natural terrain required for the extreme sport of off-roading like long-winding uneven trails and some sheer heights and drops to challenge the guts and gumption of off-roaders.
How come she was into the rough and tumble of off-roading when young women of her age would rather be clubbing and other less rigorous sports?
Her passion for driving got her hooked to rallying and off-roading, said Ritika.
“I am just crazy for driving,” she quipped.
She quickly points out that another factor that made her fall head over heals into off-roading was the encouragement she got from a close friend, Damaninder Singh Bedi — a keen off-roader himself.
“He encouraged me to go off-roading, saying if men could do it, so could I,” she said, adding she has been into the sport and testing her skills for the last four-five years.
Ritika, who hails from Shirdi in Maharashtra but is now settled in Gurugram of Haryana, is currently looking after her business venture rather than practising dentistry.
Apart from her passion for motorsport, she is a keen basketball and volleyball player.
She said she has been off-roading near Gurugram, since it offers natural wilderness and the terrain required for the purpose.
“My father too has been very encouraging, asking me to live life as I want. My mother is, however, scared for me,” she said.
“But you should not be simply sitting at home,” reasoned Ritika.
Any extreme sport enthusiast will readily agree.